For the second time, a legislative proposal to override local bans on commercial dog sales has been killed.
Last night, Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, withdrew his amendment that would have nullified any local ordinance that prohibits the sale of dogs from a breeder licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Florida Association of Counties and the Humane Society of the United States, both working to fight the amendment, confirmed that it was withdrawn.
The legislation as proposed would have eliminated a Hillsborough County ordinance passed last year that prohibited the commercial sale of dogs, except at stores already operating.
If the legislation became law, consumers would have to rely on USDA inspections to ensure that breeders are operating according to federal safety and health rules.
Until last year, the USDA made dog breeder inspections readily available for anyone to search on its website. However, one month after President Donald Trump's inauguration, the federal agency removed inspections from its website.
In May of last year, the Tampa Bay Times asked the USDA to provide the three most recent inspections of 15 puppy breeders who supply Tampa-area stores. The agency recently provided 54 pages, however, nearly every word of the inspection was redacted.
Providing "personnel and medical files," the agency said, would "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Previous inspections obtained by the Times last year before they were removed by the new administration showed a Hillsborough puppy store received dogs from USDA-licensed breeders with several violations.
A more sweeping state proposal related to puppy sales was previously injected into a tax bill, but it was shot down earlier this legislative session. It then resurfaced Tuesday morning as an amendment to a 125-page bill supported by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, before it was withdrawn later in the day.
Opponents of the legislation are not convinced it is dead for good.
"We're still vigilantly monitoring for any additional efforts before the end of session," said Lindsay Larris, an attorney with the Animal legal Defense Fund.
Times staff writer Sara DiNatale contributed to this report.